Tomato problem again

I'm having a terrible time with my tomato plants and could use some advice. This is my first time growing them.
I'm growing a Big Boy, Better Boy, and Patio, each in a 5 gallon pot on my porch. They were purchased from a store in May and planted a few weeks later. By the middle of June, there were already two little green tomatoes on the Patio one. Just today, the Patio produced the first two ripe tomatoes of the season.
Other than that, none of the other tomatoes are ripening. And there are only a few tomatoes on each of the plants. I would say maybe 3-5 on each plant. Then, within the past two days two hornworms decided to eat up most of one of the plants (either the Better Boy or Big Boy) and another hornworm was on the Patio one but it didn't get that much damage.
Do my plants stand a chance of producing any more tomatoes? It seems like something is wrong with them. Shouldn't they be producing more tomatoes by now? I'm thinking they're not getting enough fertilizer or something like that.
When we planted them, I followed the advice of a relative who said to plant them in a mixture of potting soil and some dirt from the flower bed. I had been using a liquid fertilizer similar to Miracle Grow but I thought I was using it too much so I haven't used it in a month.
Any suggestions on what I should be doing? Honestly, I don't care so much if the tomatoes don't ripen because I prefer fried green tomatoes anyway. Also, is the Better Boy resistant to hornworms. It's strange that only two of the three plants were affected by them.
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Mike S. wrote:

Not sure about the rest but this is one thing that might be questionable. How much soil from the garden did you use?
Regular soil is too compact for a container. You should use 100% potting soil (though you can cut in some peat). Potting soil will retain moisture and nutrients that will pass through the compacted soil.
Something to remember for next year. Also, you can use the soil only for the one season. After that, it's depleted of nutrients and is best dumped on bare spots in the lawn (you can't put it into the vegetable garden because tomatoes (and potatoes) have too many diseases that would get passed on to anything planted in that garden next year - so those two always get put on the lawn).
Yes...I grow potatoes in containers too...works great.
..
Zone 5a in Canada's Far East.
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I/m no expert, but I have learned a few things over the years that may be of help to you with your tomat trubbles.

If possible, the plants should have been set in the garden as soon after you got them home as possible. The the 'days-to-maturity' clock starts when the plants go into the garden, or in your case, the 5-gal bucket.
The bucket size is suitable for growing tomats in a container. Did you drill about a dozen holes in the bottom for drainage? If so, is the bucket sitting atop bricks or wood blocks to allow excess water to drain from the bucket?

Days-to-maturity for Patio is 70. Better Boy is 75 and Big Boy is 78, so there's one good reason why your Patio ripened before the others.
Hornworms cause big problems if they/re not controlled early. Keep your eye out for the moths that lay the eggs that produce the hornworm. http://images.google.com/images?q=hornworm+moth&hl=en&btnG=Search+Images
When you see the moths or their pupa, it/s time to start weekly sprays of BT (sold as Dipel (tm) http://images.google.com/images?svnum &hl=en&lr=&q=dipel).
If you miss the moths and pupa, look for the 'poopa' on the lower leaves or the soil. That's evidence you have hornworm and it/s time for the BT. BT works best when the worms are small. When the worms are larger, handpick and destroy.

Are your plants still producing flowers? Are the new flowers producing new fruits?
Tomats are not heavy feeders. I side dress mine with two handfuls of 5-10-10 when the first flowers appear. During the season, I foliar feed a few times with seaweed emulsion.

Pure potting soil is better than mixing with flower bed dirt b/c dirt compacts and inhibits good drainage. I/d use a potting soil with perlite or vermiculite to ensure good drainage.
Miracle Grow and similar liquid fertilizer products comes in a variety or strengths. Not every formulation is good for every application. Tomats don/t need a lot of N nor will they need a lot of supplemental feeding if the potting soil comes 'pre-juiced.'

Be patient. They/ll ripen in due time.
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On 22 Jul 2006 21:39:38 -0700, "Mike S."

I don't think there's anything wrong with your soil or your containers, I think it's the fertilizer. I think your plants got too much nitrogen and the growth went to leaf rather than fruit.
I know that Miracle Grow makes a specific food for tomatoes, so you might consider that, or you might consider giving one application of MG's Blossom Booster fertilizer. I mix composted manure into the soil mixtures of my potted tomatoes and peppers, then add a little bit of an organic fertilizer -Tomato Tone from Espoma - to the top of the potting mix every two weeks or so. If you decide to use a pelleted fertilizer, be careful that you don't burn the plant by adding too much at once. I add about a forth to a half, depending on the size and diameter of the pot, of the recommended amount for plants in the ground.
You didn't say where you are, but the recent heat wave that hit the country would stop most tomato plants from setting fruit. If yours were a little late getting settled into their containers, they might not have set much fruit before the heat hit.

No.

Moths and butterflies can be very fussy about where they lay their eggs. Or, the moth may have laid eggs on that plant, but a predator got the eggs or young caterpillars before you saw them.
Penelope
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Penelope Periwinkle wrote:

I don't want to say which state I live in but I will say that it's one of the Mid-Atlantic states. I think the weather around here has been a little unusual this year, or at least it was at the beginning of the summer. I think the month of June was both the driest and rainiest month of the year. First we were in a drought then we had flooding. I guess that would affect the growth of the tomatoes.
It has been hot here lately. 90+ during the days and low 70s at night. Very little rain. The plants have also only been getting about 6 hrs of sun a day. It will probably be less than that soon with the sun and time of year changing. I can't find anywhere else to put them. The pots are sitting above ground on small blocks. I wondered if the exposure to the heat and sun would bake the pots causing damage to the roots.

What's weird is that the day after my original post, I went out to check the plants and there was another hornworm on the Patio plant. I never found the one that was on the Better Boy. I don't know where it went unless it made it's way over to the Patio. Strange thing is that the three plants are sitting beside each other and the middle plant was never affected by the hornworms.
Why is it that I never saw the eggs on the plants? Thursday there was nothing on the plants, Friday I forgot to check them and Saturday is when I found the hornworms. They've pretty much to destroyed the two plants. They ate all the buds (is that what they're called?) and most of the leaves are gone. They even got some of the tomatoes. I don't understand how they could've infested and destroyed the plants so quickly. They must move quickly or grow quickly. They sure are strange, creepy little things.
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| I don't want to say which state I live in
Unless you've got something special going on that makes it look like you're someplace else...
I just found out and it took about 20 seconds altogether. I can give you city and state. You're not as hidden as you might think. Anyone can do it and it's very easy.
Sorry to burst your bubble. I just don't want you to go around thinking that it's hidden if it's not.
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Not when you are posting on a public forum... ;-) I know that I can at least be traced by city. One good reason to live in a PO box but even that is no guarantee.
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